1. Default Section

The Montana Poultry Growers Cooperative, legally incorporated in April 2006, is proud to be a part of the economic growth and environmental sustainability that comes with bringing value-added products like pasture-raised, on-farm processed poultry into the local food system in Montana. Since the cooperative's incorporation, the main goal has been to bring mobile processing infrastructure to producers in Montana. Until the development of the Mobile Processing Unit (MPU) in 2010 Montana did not have a facility for processing poultry for retail sales. The hard work and persistent dedication of Montana Poultry Cooperative members, strategic partner organizations and agencies and everyday food system advocates enabled the cooperative to meet this monumental milestone. We are now ready to legally process poultry for the marketplace, have a training resource developed that is being emulated in other parts of the country, and several producers utilizing the MPU resource this summer.

As is only natural, it would be easy for individuals and the cooperative as a whole to sit back and relish the success of our work. The challenge, though, is not to become too comfortable and complacent. Much work remains to develop a viable and prospering pastured-poultry industry in Montana. In April, the MT Poultry Grower’s Cooperative hosted a workshop led by Jim Adkins from the International Center for Poultry. We concluded the workshop with a meeting comprised of cooperative members and workshop attendees to begin laying a plan for the Cooperative’s future work. The following survey reflects the meeting’s big ideas. Please take a few minutes and complete the survey. It will serve as a roadmap for the Cooperative’s future direction.

* 1. Demographic information will be used to update the database.

* 2. Priorities for the Cooperative (Please rank 1-7 with 1 being highest priority):

  Highest Priority Average Priority Lowest Priority
Small scale processing infrastructure
State licensed Mobile processing unit (250 bird minimum and strictly used for the sale of birds in the wholesale/retail marketplace)
Heritage bird production project that may include cooperative breeding, cooperative purchasing, marketing, education, and processing workshops
Education programs in general
Focused pasture-poultry producer recruitment, which may include new producer training program and technical assistance mentor program
Assisting each other with processing

* 3. Proposed Fee Structure (Please check the fee structure that works for you or offer an alternative structure under “other.")

* 4. Cooperative Planning Committee (Please mark yes or no): The cooperative planning committee would convene via conference call or in person to develop the goals and work plan for the identified priority areas.

Would you be willing to be on the cooperative’s planning committee?

* 5. Policy Work (Please mark yes or no): Under the current law the Mobile Poultry Unit can only be used to process poultry on the farm that the birds were raised:

"The facility used to slaughter or process poultry is not used to slaughter or process another person’s poultry unless the Administrator of FSIS grants an exemption [9 CFR 381.10 (b)(2)]."

An exemption exists that could enable the cooperative to aggregate live birds and slaughter and process collaboratively. This exemption may be an opportunity to bring more processing volume to the MPU and reduce the per bird cost of slaughter.

Would you be willing to work with other members on the exemption laws in order to open opportunities for more collaborative processing?